How to Be the Father of a Wise Child
Why do some children adore their dads and others hate their dads? What’s the difference in dads? I’ve observed dads, and there’s one characteristic I’ve found in almost all dads whose children love and follow them. I’m going to tell you what that characteristic is in a moment.
Sometimes children are caught up in the mistakes and mindset of fathers who won’t do what they should to guide those children into a safe, secure haven. Their own pride and arrogance make shipwreck both of their own lives and their children’s. It doesn’t have to be this way.
The book of Proverbs is a veritable owner’s manual on how to raise a wise child. In large part, that’s why the book was written. From the first chapter, it says:
2To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding; 3To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment and equity. 4To give subtlety to the simple and to the young man, knowledge and discretion. 5A wise man will hear and will increase learning and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels… 20Wisdom crieth without, she uttereth her voice in the streets. 21She crieth in the chief place of the concourse in the opening of the gates. In the city she uttereth her words saying, 22“How long ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? And scorners delight in their scorning and fools hate knowledge?” (Proverbs 1)
Underscore three words in this passage: simple, scorners, and fools. A child isn’t born a scorner or a fool. Verse 22 reveals there’s a long road in the evolution of a fool.
THE IGNORANCE OF THE SIMPLE
The word “simple” in verse 22 means open and naïve; children’ minds and hearts are plastic—easily shaped, innocent.
They lack understanding. 22“How long ye simple ones will ye love simplicity?” There comes a time when the child must be guided out of his simplicity and into wisdom and maturity.
They are easily led into error. A child is an easy target for Madison Avenue, MTV, false religions, and sinful friends. Because they’re so open, they’ll believe anything. They’re like a sponge, you can trick them, flim-flam them, but they’re living in constant danger. “The simple believeth every word...” (14:15). “A prudent man forseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on and are punished” (22:3). The simple thinks he’s indestructible, never weighing the future, easy to lead to the slaughter.
THE DEFIANCE OF THE SCORNER
The scorner, however, has gone a step farther. Heads up, dads. If not guided by dad and mom, they take the next step down—they become the scorner. They get their jollies from being the teenage smart aleck, the cynic in business, the mocker at the university. It breaks my heart to say it, but most teenagers in America are now scorners.
They defy instruction because “scorners delight in their scorning” (1:22) “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction, but a scorner heareth not rebuke (13:1). A scorner will fire back at you (9:8). They won’t listen. It’s like talking to a brick wall—they’ll tune you out.
They despise the good and godly. “A scorner loveth not the one that reproveth him” (15:12). They’ll never come and say, “Dad, I need help. Will you help me out?” When you try to correct the scorner, they’ll look at you and say with their eyes, “I hate your guts.”
They’re destined for destruction. “Whoso despiseth the Word shall be destroyed” (13:13). If they laugh at the Word of God, they may laugh their way right into Hell. The scorner is very hard to reach, but there is yet hope; they can still be reclaimed.
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE FOOL
First there was the simple—naive, open, and carefree. But if he’s not taught, he becomes the scorner. Then the scorner becomes a fool. The scorner is insolent, but the fool is immovable— rebellious, arrogant, and wicked.
The fool rejects wisdom. 22“And fools hate knowledge.” “The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge, but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness” (15:14).
He ridicules righteousness. “Fools make a mock at sin” (14:9). This is why we have sitcoms that laugh at drunkenness, glorify adultery, mock marriage, promote homosexuality and relish perversion. Who does that? Fools.
He rejoices in iniquity. “Folly is a joy to him that is destitute of wisdom” (15:20-21). His moral sense has been so perverted, he calls good evil and evil good. His heart is hardened, conscience seared, mind defiled.
He rejects reproof. “Whom the Father loves, He chastens and scourges every son whom He receiveth.” God will chasten those who are His own, but “A reproof entereth more into a wise man than a hundred stripes into a fool” (17:10).Trying to reprove the fool will get you nowhere. Don’t even try. He won’t hear you. He is intransigent. If he were wise, when God chastised him, he would repent.
God gives us little children who begin life “simple”—innocent and open. But if you’re not careful, society will turn them into a smart aleck. If they’re not rescued, dad, when they becomes scorners or smart alecks, they’ll become fools. The fool is on the fast-track for Hell.
We are in serious trouble in America. In 1962, prayer in public schools was declared unconstitutional. In 1963, Bible reading in schools was deemed “unconstitutional” but the killing of pre-born children somehow became (1973) a Constitutional “right.” Then (1980) the Ten Commandments posted on school walls must be removed because—they said—“The child might be tempted to emulate them.”
Secular humanists have proven to be great strategists. They found the one segment of life almost every child will pass through—public education—and targeted it to become their “Sunday School” for humanist philosophy. To do that, they had to purge out any vestige of Christian influence.
To not to raise a fool, what can you do? With everything in modern culture fighting against you, you must gear up for this battle, dads.
1. Expound truth. Saturate them in the Proverbs. Emblazon the Ten Commandments onto their consciousness. Teach them the Beatitudes, that they might learn these simple, basic truths. The battle is for the mind. As the child thinks, so is he.
It’s your God-given responsibility (see Deuteronomy 6:6-9) is to teach these commandments to your sons and grandsons that your family will survive and your home endure.
2. Expose sin. The simple will learn by example when they see discipline falling upon the scorner. Children need to see what happens when sin is exposed and consequences are suffered. “When the scorner is punished, the simple is made wise” (21:11). The worst thing would be for your child to live in a sinful society where he never sees the repercussions of sin. Our children today are insulated; often they don’t see the result of sin. You need to help them understand. Don’t only expound truth, but expose sin. Take him down to skid row. Take him to the prisons. Let him see the end result of bad choices. “Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware” (Proverbs 19:25). They will learn. He thinks he’s indestructible. He does not know. You need to pull back the veil.
3. Expel scorners. Do not let your children hang around with scorners and fools. Just don’t do it. Help him select his friends. That means you may have to be firm and cast out the scorner. Why? Impressionable children will succumb to peer pressure.
Open up your house to your child’s friends. Make your home the headquarters for happiness. And while they’re there, you can monitor those friends. Peer pressure is not bad if the peers are good. If there’s a scorner, a smart aleck, or a fool, you say, “Son, there’s the sidewalk.” “Cast out the scorner and contention shall go out. Yea, strife and reproach shall cease.” (22:10). Moms and dads, underscore this: “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise. But a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (13 20).
4. Express love. Love your children! Delight in them. “For whom the Lord loveth He correcteth, even as a father the son in whom he delighteth” (3:12). Be positive! Don’t be negative. Words can hurt your children more than a slap in the face. Learn to listen. Try to see life from their point of view. They’re facing things you never faced.
5. Be gentle. This is that one characteristic I mentioned at the beginning, which I’ve seen in all dads whose children love and follow them: They are gentle. That’s what children want out of their dad. Yes, they want a dad they can look up to, who’s the strongest, wisest, smartest, fastest, best dad in the world…but they want him to be gentle! Touch them, hug them, give them non-verbal affection.
6. Be transparent. Let them know your fears, joys, disappointments, failures, and goals. They already know you’re not perfect; they don’t want you to be a phony.
7. Be available. Make it a priority that you’re going to be available to your child.
You say, “Pastor Rogers, very frankly, I’m not adequate.”
I know—I’m not either. None of us has what it takes to be this kind of dad or mom. That’s the reason we need Jesus isn’t it? We’ve got to have Christ in our hearts! Because the Christian life is not difficult, it’s impossible. Only one can do it, and that’s Jesus. But He will do it in us and through us if we’ll let Him. The best thing you can do for your children is to love God will all your heart. Give your heart to Jesus.
The Battle for the Soul of America contains timeless, foundational principles about human government, all rooted in biblical truth. Real truth never changes, and the truth about government is that it is God who ordains it, leaders who are responsible for it, and citizens who are accountable to it. In this book, pastor, teacher, and author Adrian Rogers reminds us that the privilege of being called Americans comes with significant responsibilities—to God, to each other, and to the world.